Cases & Decisions

Moore v BC et al [Special Education, accomodation]

Court: Supreme Court of Canada, 2012

This was a case about a student (Jeffrey Moore) with dyslexia who was denied appropriate accommodation of his disability, thereby preventing him meaningful access to an education in the public school system.When Jeffrey was an elementary school student, his school board eliminated the remedial program that had been recommended to address Jeffrey’s learning disability. The Board failed to provided adequate alternatives. Ultimately, Jeffrey went to private school (at the expense of his parents) where he received the appropriate accommodation that he needed in order to meaningfully access an education.

JFCY intervened in this important case, providing argument to the court on various human rights legal issues around special education.

The court found in favour of Jeffrey, holding that the School Board discriminated against him on the basis of disability because he was not provided with adequate special education services in order to to develop his individual potential. Jeffrey and his family were compensated for the harm he experienced as a result of the discrimination, including the reimbursement of tuition costs that his parents had paid to the private school.  With respect to the human rights analysis, the Court made it clear that the “service” to which Jeffrey was entitled under the human rights legislation was “education” generally, not “special education” specifically. This ensures that the analysis doesnot end up in a “separate but equal” approach, ie comparing kids with one disability to kids with another disability.  The access that students with learning disabilities have to an education must be compared to the access that the general student population has to an education. To this end, the Court stated at paragraph 5 of the judgment: “Adequate special education, therefore, is not a dispensable luxury.  For those with severe learning disabilities, it is the ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made available to all children.”

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